Andasibe is a fantastic place to experience Madagascar’s lush endemic rainforest. The highlights are two protected areas, the Perinet Special Reserve and Mantadia National Park. The journey to Andasibe offers first time visitors to Madagascar an introduction to rural life with rice fields, redbrick houses and roadside stalls selling seasonal fruits and vegetables lining the route.
Perinet reserve is one of the best places to see Madagascar’s largest lemur: the Indri. The Indri is one of the few animals in the world that cannot survive in captivity, and its haunting call can be heard for up to 2 miles. There are another 11 species of lemur to spot as you walk through the rainforest, as well as a multitude of unique birds, and many more endemic species.
Mantadia National park comprises virtually untouched primary rainforest and is home to different species than those seen in Perinet. This is a naturalist’s goldmine with many seldom seen species of mammals, reptiles and birds.
The densely forested Masoala Peninsula contains the largest remaining block of protected rainforest in Madagascar and harbors a wealth of rare and unique species including the Red-Ruffed Lemur. This is the wettest place in Madagascar with an annual rainfall exceeding 200 inches annually. The trails can be quite steep and muddy so it is best to visit this area if you are physically fit. The peninsula can only be conveniently accessed by charter. This is a wonderful destination for photographers, with golden sandy beaches and lush rainforests. Combine day and night walks through the primary forest and trips up the river in traditional pirogues with beach activities such as snorkeling and guided sea kayaking for a chance to spot Bottlenose Dolphins and Green Turtles. Birdwatchers will relish the opportunity to see the Helmet and Bernier’s Vangas, Scaly Ground-Roller and other rare endemic birds.
Ile Sainte Marie
Ile Sainte Marie (Nosy Boraha), is a luxuriant island off the eastern coast of Madagascar. The best times to visit are June and mid-August through December. It is an excellent spot for whale watching from July through October. Humpback whales visit the island’s shores yearly to have their young. This is a real tropical island experience with endless deserted beaches overhung by coconut palms, bays protected by vibrant coral reefs and lush vegetation. The island was a major pirate hideout in the 18th century and was the first part of Madagascar to fall under French rule in 1750. There is even a pirate cemetery with gravestones dating back to the 1830’s.